Rogers, one of the rarified members of Canada's cable and wireless oligopoly, has rolled out Rogers on Demand Online, a rather tepid answer to Hulu, the American service that allows U.S internet users to watch television shows on their computers and mobile devices (international users can't access the service). But where Hulu offers tons of choices, Rogers on Demand Online has precious little to watch, and what's there isn't worth seeing in the first place. If that were the worst of it, Rogers offering would be just another Canadian also-ran digital service, but RODO increases the suck by region-locking almost everything if you aren't in an area serviced by Rogers cable. As a Rogers Wireless subscriber, I can get onto the site, but since the Rogers hegemon goes from Ontario eastward, I can watch very few of the available shows. That's right, Rogers region-locks people IN CANADA.
Much as I love living in Canada (socialized medicine, gay marriage being A-OK and opting out of the Iraq war being but three highlights) we're utterly pathetic when it comes to digital media. I was able to attend the Banff TV Fest, as well as nextMedia this year as part of my scribe duties for Techvibes. While nextMedia was a fantastic display of online innovation and enthusiasm, the Banff TV Fest was completely stuck in the past. If I ever had any doubt that the TV industry in Canada is headed straight down the toilet, three days of listening to TV execs being utterly clueless about the internet sealed the deal. At one point, one exec even said "we don't need to worry about the Internet, we have HD!" Hopefully the entire audience couldn't hear my continual eye-rolling. To be fair, Dave Purdy, the Rogers exec who attended the Banff TV fest, seemed to be more on the ball than most of his colleagues. However given the current state of RODO, I may have to revise my opinion.
Here's hoping Canadians, who have oodles of talent and technical skill, stop chasing the futility of a place in old media, and instead go straight to an audience by picking up some camcorders, and post their work straight to the internet.